Our train, The Canadian, arrived in Vancouver on Wednesday, September 11 about 8:30, about an hour and a half ahead of schedule. We were up early and fully packed before breakfast on the train. After breakfast we watched from the rear club car as the train pull into the city of Vancouver.
After a short cab ride to our hotel, The Vancouver YWCA hotel, we checked into our room and immediately took a nap. I didn’t expect much from the YWCA hotel, but Holly booked it because it was the best value we could find in downtown Vancouver, about $120 per night. Not plush, but clean, adequate for our needs and a good downtown location near Robson Street and across the street from BC Place Stadium. I’d recommend a stay here for a budget minded traveler.
In the afternoon, we walked from our hotel to The Lookout, a tower with a 360 degree view on top of the Harbour Centre Tower across the street from the waterfront. Even Holly who is not a fan of towers and high places in general, enjoyed the views from The Lookout and we agreed it was a good way to get an overview of the city. We looked down on Canada Place on the waterfront where the cruise ships docks and from which we would depart in a few days. We also looked down on Gastown and Chinatown and decided to walk to these two areas next.
Much of downtown Vancouver is modern high rise buildings. Gastown is the older part of town with brick sidewalks and funky, but upscale shops, restaurants and clubs. Gastown is very touristy and the throngs of tourists attracts a large contingent of fairly aggressive panhandlers and street people. It reminded us of the homeless population on State Street in our home town of Santa Barbara. The AAA guidebook suggests: “Gastown and Chinatown are fun to visit during the day, use big-city common sense regarding any encounters with panhandlers and street people, and avoid wandering around side streets after dark.” I think this is good advice.
After we walked through Gastown, we walked the short distance to Chinatown to see Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden. Nice, but it would be better had we visited either early or late in the day when the light would be better for photography.
Our second day we went to the Granville Island Public Market after a little boat ride across False Creek. The Public Market has a variety of fresh foods and other locally produced goods. This is a really enjoyable spot. Holly did a little shopping and we bought lunch.
In the evening we got together with Kerry Somerset and her boyfriend Richard, at Joe Fortes Restaurant for dinner. Kerry and her late husband David are friends of ours from our Coverall days. It was lovely to catch up with Kerry and meet the new man in her life.
On our third day in Vancouver, we visited Stanley Park. Stanley Park is a large city park (about 10% larger than NYC Central Park), surrounded on three sides by water. It’s at the northwest end of the peninsula of downtown Vancouver. To get to the park, we purchased a “Big Red Bus” hop on – hop off bus ticket. When the bus arrived at Stanley Park, we jumped on the Stanley Park Excursion bus, (included with the Big Red Bus ticket), to take an open bus tour of the park itself. The park tour stops at Prospect Point to allow passengers to walk out to the point, take pictures, view the Lions Gate Bridge and buy postcards and ice cream.
We jumped off the bus and ate lunch at the Tea House Restaurant in Stanley Park for lunch.